Monday, January 25, 2010

Banning Freedom of Speech for the Greater Good?

Recently, legislation was introduced to the French Parliament to ban pro-ana blogs and websites. These websites promote anorexia and bulimia by giving tips on how starve themselves and “thinspiration.” According to one source, the legislation would criminalize the production of such websites and could result in fines of €30,000 ($42,435) and a two-year prison sentence for people who:

“provoke a person to seek excessive thinness by encouraging prolonged restriction of nourishment” to the point of risking death or damage to health. The prison term is raised to three years with a €45,000 fine if the person dies."

To be honest, I am a little hesitant to embrace this proactive law to stop the promotion of anorexia. On one hand it is stopping a practice that is damaging and deadly yet it is also limiting freedom of speech. I know that it seems silly to want to protect the freedom of speech of someone who is promoting something so dangerous, but what about the women who use these outlets (however damaging) as a way to cope. Rather than pursing these people as criminals and punishing them through means of fines and prison, maybe the truly proactive thing would be to provide help. For the time being, there does not seem to be any upcoming anti-ana legislation in the U.S., but if there is maybe we can pass out help and tips for recovery rather than sentences.

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